I’ve been using Apple’s big new iPhone update for a few days — here are my …

21 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Targeted as Malware Infects China Mobile Apps.

Tumblr co-founder Marco Arment, who developed the most popular paid ad-blocker on Apple Inc’s U.S. app store, has pulled the product, citing concerns that the tool could hurt independent Web publishers.

AAPL -0.41 % ’s App Store were found to be infected with malicious software in what is being described as a first-of-its-kind security breach, exposing a rare vulnerability in Apple’s mobile platform, according to multiple researchers. In a blog post on Friday, Arment, wrote on the social media site that he was pulling his “Peace” app because he does not feel that it is his role to decide what content is blocked. “Adblockers come with an important asterisk: while they do benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who don’t deserve the hit,” Arment wrote. The applications were infected after software developers were lured into using an unauthorized and compromised version of Apple’s developer tool kit, according to researchers at Alibaba Mobile Security, a mobile antivirus division of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The controversy around ad-blocking software kicked up this week after Apple made it available on the new version of the iPhone operating system on Wednesday. In separate statements posted to social media over the weekend, Tencent, Didi Kuaidi Joint Co. and NetEase said their applications had been compromised but said no sensitive customer information had been lost. “At present, we haven’t discovered any loss of user information or assets as a result of this [breach], though the WeChat team will continue to monitor and do tests,” Tencent said in a message posted to the Sina Weibo WB 0.33 % microblogging service late Friday.

However, many argue that such tools hurt publishers, particularly smaller ones, by forcing them to develop dedicated iPhone apps, rather than relying on mobile-friendly websites. It was the most perplexing experience I’ve had with this iPad mini since I bought it in the fall of 2012: Instead of offering the advertised transit directions, Maps made the same suggestion to install a third-party app for transit guidance as iOS 8’s version. Some 20 million people used ad blockers last year, up 40 percent from a year earlier, resulting in $22 billion in lost advertising revenue, according to a study by Adobe and PageFair, an anti ad-blocking tech company. I reset my iPad’s settings while keeping my apps and data, then wiped the tablet and restored it from a backup, then factory-reset it as a new device. Each time, Maps would only offer driving and walking directions in the cities where it’s supposed to offer transit help (in the U.S., only Baltimore, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington).

Chinese anticensorship activist group Greatfire.org called it “the most widespread and significant spread of malware” in the app store’s history. Other apps found infected with the malware include those belonging to state-run mobile carrier China Unicom, CHU -2.56 % and 12306, the country’s official train-booking website, researchers said. Apple’s description of iOS 9, from the press release to its sales pitch for Apple Maps to its listing of iOS 9-compatible devices, doesn’t mention any device-specific hangup with transit navigation. That last page does warn iOS users that Siri and some multitasking options don’t work on vintage devices, so it’s not as if Apple doesn’t know to give a heads-up about compatibility issues on devices of a certain age. It wasn’t clear Sunday how the infected apps made it past Apple’s screening process, or whether the breach had resulted in any user information being stolen, though researchers said millions of devices could have been exposed based on the popularity of the apps in question.

Apple PR confirmed that transit navigation is confined to a subset of iOS 9-capable devices: the iPad Air and newer versions, the iPad mini 2 and its successors, the iPhone 5 and subsequent models, and the sixth-generation iPod touch. Parsing the company’s technical documentation and quizzing two longtime iOS developers did, however, bring up a couple of reasons why a new iOS app might not work on a device running the latest version of iOS.

Depending on your Android device you may see, as I did, some type of message alerting you about the potential dangers of connecting to a third-party device. To write apps for Apple devices, developers have to use a tool kit called Xcode, but downloading the official version from Apple’s website can take a long time in China.

For example, Safari’s new support for ad-filtering extensions requires a 64-bit processor, as developer Marco Arment tweeted Thursday to answer questions about his (since-withdrawn) Peace add-on. Either factor could also explain why iOS 9’s Proactive Assistant app (it should occupy the screen to the left of your home screen) doesn’t show up on my iPad mini. Even if the hackers didn’t use the malware to steal anything, Palo Alto Networks warned it still represented a threat to the popular operating system. If you have an aging iPhone or iPad, you’d best stick to a non-Apple navigation app like Google Maps–which not only tolerates Metal-incapable, 32-bit processors but has long provided the bicycling directions that remain missing from iOS 9.

In both iOS 8 and iOS 9, Apple’s Tips app can be a pointless source of distraction as it pops up notifications about shortcuts you learned long ago. That’s because Google Photos, Carousel from Dropbox, or other cloud-enabled photo apps will sometimes delete pictures from your device in order to save space. You can’t uninstall that app (Apple CEO Tim Cook recently told BuzzFeed’s John Paczkowski that the company might allow that eventually), but you can banish it from your iPhone or iPad’s notifications.

To do that, open the Settings app, tap Notifications, scroll down and select “Tips,” then tap the slider button next to “Allow Notifications” so that it’s no longer highlighted in green. For example, you can always install Google’s apps if you want to keep using the company’s cloud, especially the rather excellent Google Photos, Google search app, and Inbox. Yes, iOS is often called a “walled garden.” But walled gardens tend to be pretty nice places, and all major cloud providers have set up shop to serve you with their own applications.

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